It’s been almost 48 hours since I first heard the news that Robin Williams had passed away. Like the rest of the world, I wanted to believe it was just another celebrity death hoax. I needed it to be another celebrity death hoax.
In that moment I felt a loss like I have only experienced a few times before. It felt like I had just received the news that a close relative had died. That’s really the only way to explain it.
It had just been another Monday evening. I was sitting on my back porch with a friend trying to come up with a plan for the night. I was checking ride wait times at Magic Kingdom when I decided to jump onto Twitter. There it was. Like a slap in the face. I ran inside for my laptop, wanting to confirm through at least a couple of major news outlets before I was willing to accept what I was reading.
It was with tears in my eyes that I told my friend the news. I quietly closed my laptop and retreated to my room and cried.
It soon became very apparent through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts that I wasn’t alone in my grief. And, really, I shouldn’t be.
Robin Williams was truly one of the greats. His work transcends the screen and when you think back on his body of work, you can’t help but to do it with a smile. Over the decades that his career spanned he navigated seamlessly through the comedic and dramatic showing us humanity at its best and worst.
Looking back at his film career, they weren’t all winners. No one hits a homerun every time they step up to the plate.
So much of my love for Robin Williams comes from his film work. Looking back at it all, it was his movies that defined my childhood. It is almost impossible to look back on some of my favorite films as a child and not see his name on them.
Robin’s work inspired so much of not only who I am, but so many of the amazingly talented people that I am lucky to call my friends.
On Monday August 11th we all lost something that was so important to us, someone that we cherished so much, someone that we couldn’t really appreciate until it was too late.
To my generation, Robin Williams was the favorite uncle that wouldn’t couldn’t wait to see again, simply because we never knew what to expect.
The characters that he brought to life taught us more than we ever realized about life. We learned that it’s important to be ourselves and never be afraid to speak what is on our minds. That possibilities in our world are endless and we should never stop striving to learn, to reach beyond, and live every moment to its maximum potential. We learned that there is truly good in each and every sorrowful moment and that the greatest gifts can’t be found in a store or market but inside each and every one of us. He taught us to never settle for anything less than what we deserve. He taught us the value and importance of friendship, of love, and of loss.
It is these lessons that I choose to focus on in these moments. Since Monday night I have shut the news reports and internet stories out because that’s not how this man should be remembered.
He should be remembered for those moments of joy and laughter that he has brought us all over the years. From Arabian Nights to Ferngully. Vietnam to Neverland. Jumangi to Ork. He was our Genie, our Doctor, our Nanny and our absent minded professor. This is how he should be honored and remembered.
I can’t thank him enough for being the living embodiment of my childhood. He was the best friend I never knew..
My biggest regret is that I will never be able to thank him in person for being such an inspiration. I can only hope that I can, in my own work, carry that torch to inspire others, to make them laugh, to make them cry. To help them open their minds, to be themselves and the love the world around them.
My friend. My genie, you’re free.